short and (so very) sweet

I am so very pleased to announce that I have been accepted into an online Masters degree program in Early Childhood Education through the University of British Columbia!

This is a part-time, cohort program, which means that for the next 2 and 1/2 years, I will be taking one or two classes at a time, all with the same group of people.

I am absolutely ecstatic to have the opportunity to further my education in the world of early years, my true passion.

I would like to say a HUMONGOUS thank you to all of my supporters and cheerleaders: my family, friends, and colleagues. I owe so much to all of you for constantly standing behind me and encouraging me along my journey.

#goals

It is times like these where I am reminded of how fitting my blog name is. I initially created this blog to document the journey through my degree, when I was quite literally “learning to teach”.  Through reflection, professional development, and pursuing my Masters, however, I am proving that, each and every day, I am still “learning to teach” and be the best educator that I possibly can be.

Cheers to all of the amazing adventures ahead! I hope you will continue to come along for the ride.

Love,

-KKF

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light table eye candy

Our class recently received this brand new tri-fold mirror. The decision to add this piece to the light table was a good one, as it drew students to the centre today.

The addition of this aesthetic element amps up the already beautiful colored blocks on the light table. I was bursting with excitement when students began stacking blocks on top of each other in order to mix the colors and create new hues of purple, orange, and yellow.

While this exploration only lasted a few minutes, other students soon came over and began using the blocks in other ways, such as balancing them on top of each other and building with them.

What would you add to keep the exploration of color mixing sustained?

What are your favourite light table additions?

Until next time,

-KKF

on the bad days

One thing that has surprised me about teaching is what an emotional roller coaster it can be. One day I feel like a superhero teacher who rocked every lesson and was on top of her game; the next day I feel as if I have no idea what I’m doing and nothing went right.

The remarkable thing about teachers, though, is their resilience. Even after a horrible day, they come back the next morning ready to try again. It’s no wonder that teaching is a profession that requires utmost passion; some days that is all we are running on in order to come back and fight another day even after we feel we are down for the count.

An unflinching sense of optimism is also a handy tool to have. Tomorrow is thought of as a chance to do better, be better. It is a new opportunity, a blank slate, a great day just waiting to happen.

Here are my personal tips for when you’ve had a bad day:

-leave early to clear your head

-let what happened go, but reflect on what can be improved next time

-take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy; self care!

-read through any little “gems” you have that remind you why you became a teacher or highlight your successes and impact on previous students

-remember that everyone has bad days

-get a good sleep so you can come back the next day refreshed and ready to rock it!

On that note, time for me to go to bed early and be ready to rock it tomorrow!

What are your tips for when you’ve had a bad day? What keeps your passion fueled to continue to do your job, despite its challenges?

finding happiness outside of my passion

This blog will (hopefully) just be a quick jot on the topic of the week: Joy, Happiness, and Fun

As a very passionate and proud Pre-K teacher, I do not have any trouble finding happiness, joy, and fun in my job and in the learning journey I share with my “littles.” However, in a small town school, we only have one class of Pre-K (in the morning), which leaves the afternoon part of my job: teaching classes in other elementary grades so that their homeroom teachers can have their prep time.

I take pride in the fact that I am giving other teachers precious prep time, but I have to be honest in saying that I don’t find the same amount of joy and happiness in this aspect of my job (which, as one of those “born-to-be-a-teacher” types, bothers me).

Next year, I have Grades 4, 5, 6, and Kindergarten on my plate, which altogether will be about 130 students who I see for just a small portion of their week. The most difficult part of this, for me, is not having enough time together to form relationships with each student.

As an optimist through-and-through, I don’t want to go into the year feeling flat during my afternoons (who wants to feel drained and without passion?). So I am aiming to think of small ways to develop relationships with my prep students and build in more of those golden teaching moments where you can truly enjoy the students. Darting from classroom to classroom definitely makes this a challenge, and the limited amount of time I have with each class isn’t ideal, either, but I am determined to bring some happiness, joy, and fun into these classes (for both myself any my students).

I hope to save 10 or 15 minutes each week to have sharing time, so that we can discuss important or exciting things going on in our lives as a learning community. I truly believe that investing some of my instruction time into getting to know the students will serve me in the long run! After all, classroom management has to begin with respect and relationships.

Do you have any quick/easy ways of building relationships with students that you could share? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Until next time,

-KKF

steamroller

Here I sit, underneath the covers of my bed (where I had planned to veg out all evening). However, after a text from a colleague asking for some technological Twitter help, I got sucked into the Twitterverse and my dormant teacher brain quickly booted up again.

This text ended up being the catalyst to a suddenly productive evening. Buckle up for this (time-stamped) retelling…

7:52 p.m. – receive text from colleague

A staff member at my school had a question about using our new school hashtag (which you should check out at #HBCSpride). I quickly checked Twitter to investigate the problem.

7:55 p.m. – reply to text from colleague 

After finding the solution to the problem, I replied to my colleague’s query. However, this was only the beginning of my foray with Twitter for the night.

7:55 p.m. – 8:18 p.m. – scrolling through Twitter 

While I love Twitter as a way to connect with other educators, I am still working on finding time to actually scroll through it. Since I was already on the app, I decided to sift through some of the latest tweets in my main feed, on #HBCSpride and #saskedchat. I had previously been toying with the idea of moderating a summer Twitter chat (thanks to a gentle suggestion from @kwhobbes) and came across the sign up sheet.

8:19 p.m. – take the plunge and sign up to moderate my first Twitter chat 

8:21 p.m. – document this occasion in 21st century fashion by tweeting about it

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 9.52.54 PM

Now I was past the point of No Return. I was in full-fledged teacher summer PD planning mode. Somewhere in the next 10 minutes, I ended up thinking, “Hey, if I’m going to host a Twitter chat, I might as well sign up for a summer SPDU event, too, right?”

8:31 p.m. – 8:55 p.m. – look up options for SPDU events offered over the summer, choose one I’m interested in, decide to ‘go for it’ and register

Everything was going lickity split, tickity boo, smooth sailing so far! This was easy! But the next part of my journey almost made me give up…

8:55 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. – battling with MySTF to change my password

Yes, you read that correctly. 20 minutes of attempting to change my password. I would compare these gruelling 20 minutes to the Trials of Hercules:

Labor 1: Find the heinously complicated password STF set up for me in the fall written on a note (You know the ones that are a random mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols that you don’t even know how to find on your keyboard? Yeah. It was one of those).

Labor 2: Correctly type in the heinously complicated password STF set up for me.

Labor 3: Realize that the heinously complicated password STF set up for me is only a temporary password and now I must come up with my own heinously complicated password.

Labor 4: “Error: Password must not be a word from the dictionary.”

Labor 5: “Error: Password must contain one uppercase letter.”

Labor 6: “Error: Password and password confirmation do not match.”

Labor 7: “Error: Password must contain your mother’s maiden name, one hieroglyph, the first concert you attended, one Chinese character, the name of your first pet, and one Wingding.”

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.13.56 PM

9:19 p.m. – Successfully sign up for “Playful Experiences for Early Literacy and Much More” 

9:20 p.m. – 9:31 p.m. – decide to sign up for the #saskedchat Summer Blogging Exposé

Changing a password isn’t a pre-requisite skill to blog, right?

9:31 p.m. – relay the damage of my teacher brain rampage to my ever-supportive mom

Me (and I quote): “I tell ya, once I’m on a roll, I’m on a steamroll.”

Mom: “When you’re productive, you’re productive :)”

[subtext: “When you’re lazy, you’re REALLY lazy!”]

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.23.31 PM

9:31 p.m. – 10:31 p.m. – write up my first Blogging Exposé piece/the epic tale of my evening

Now, I apologize to those of you who are following the Blogging Exposé, because you’re probably wondering, “At what point in this post does she actually address this week’s topic?” (which is Summer Reads, by the way). Well, you’ve made it, to this completely underwhelming blip on the radar that is the actual topic of this week’s Blogging Exposé.

What I Plan on Reading This Summer

Long story short, one of our division’s Coordinators of Learning (and also head of the ECE programs in the division – check her out here) very kindly lent me an entire stack of resources focused on early learning, the project approach, inquiry, Reggio Emilia, etc. to peruse for the summer. I apologize, because I have left all of them at my summer home (not my school year home) and can’t name them all for you now. But I will try my very best to give you some updates when I get around to reading them (amidst all of the other teacher-geared activities I have managed to plan for myself in one night – haha! Don’t worry though, I pencilled in plenty of time for relaxing, recharging, and recuperating as well.).

Stay tuned to continue to follow me on my journey as a teacher in the summer months.

Until then, keep steamrollin’!

-KKF

TL;DR – Even when I plan to take a night off, I don’t. I have some exciting PD opportunities coming up this summer.

 

 

how i spend my sunday

There are few things I enjoy more than rearranging my classroom furniture and centres/invitations. It makes things feel fresh and exciting. Plus I love watching my students react to new materials I have set out. 

Check out my new setup! 

My natural materials area! Filled with real birds’ nests and real grass for the frogs to frolic in.

We are going to be learning about birds, nests, and eggs in the coming weeks.


Art studio area, complete with many new supplies the students haven’t seen before. I think they’ll LOVE the mini canvases. I’m excited to display their artwork on the easels.


Dramatic play/kitchen area. To the left of the photo is the large sensory table, which currently has water beads in it.


Our brand new light table is going to be a hit, I can already tell! I have quite a few different translucent materials to explore.


My small sensory bin is featuring rice, magnetic letters, copies of the students’ names, and a magnetic board. I hope they’ll enjoy this letter hunt invitation.


We are also EXTREMELY lucky to be getting an abundance of new equipment, toys, and furniture for our outdoor playground that you can see right out of the classroom window. I will post pictures and an update once all of it is installed. We at HBCS Pre-K are sure spoiled and blessed with all of the amazing learning materials we have at our fingertips. 

This week, I was reminded just how important play is to children beyond Pre-K and K age. My grade 6 social studies class went on a scavenger hunt this week, and one of the stations was in my classroom. I was surprised to find some of them playing in the water bead sensory table while I was circulating. The students made remarks such as, “this classroom is so fun!” and “can we come in here more often?” It was enthralling to see 11 and 12 year olds engaging in the rich sensory experiences that we are required to provide for our youngest learners. This discovery solidified my belief in the power and importance of play, and the incorporation of hands-on and explorative tasks in the older grades’ curricula. It definitely sparked my motivation to include engaging and “fun” tasks with my prep classes I teach in the afternoon. Perhaps we will even have to invite the grade 6 students in during our free play time soon…

Until then, 

Keep playing! 

-KKF

spring has sprung

And spring has brought with it some new adventures. 

1. I have been feeling a lot more motivated and energetic with the warm, sunny weather. This has led to getting up earlier, being productive, and even going for walks after school! 😊

2. Seed planting in Pre-K. We planted some mystery seeds on Monday. Hopefully I can keep them alive until they sprout into grass. The students all made guesses on what the seeds would turn into and my favourite answer was: “A chomper plant!” We are checking in on the seeds every morning to see if there is any change, and I am hoping that something will happen quickly so they don’t lose interest.

3. Puddles. Giant puddles. Our whole Pre-K playground is basically a puddle, thanks to a lovely little valley between two trees in the middle of the yard. Thankfully, it has dried up a lot this week. At first, I was fairly adamant that students could not play in it when it was topped with ice, as it was slippery and could result in someone falling through the ice and getting soaked. However, the sunshine has worn me down and I now allow the students to explore the water to a point. Unfortunately, a wagon mishap today led to 2 students taking an unexpected swim. Yikes!!!! That was a teacher panic moment when I heard terrified shrieks and turned around to see the wagon sinking and 2 students half-submerged in water. The joys of spring. 😳 Check me for grey hair, please. 

4. I have received my timetable for next year. I am teaching all of the same things, and am picking up Health and Music for Grade 4. If our class numbers stay the same, I will be teaching approximately 140 students next year! That is more than 1/3 of the school population. It is sure to be another busy year full of some learning curves, but I am excited for the new adventures and learning. If you’re curious, that brings my teaching assignment to:

-Pre-Kindergarten (mornings) 

-Grade 6 Social Studies 

-Grade 5 Health and Music 

-Grade 4 Health and Music 

-Kindergarten Dance, Drama, and Music 

5. I am still keeping up with weekly blogging!!! (Again, all credit to the weather)

With Easter break right around the corner, I find it hard to believe that there are less than 3 months of school left now! 

That’s all I have for now. Until next time, 

-KKF